1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL 60060
June 11, 2017
Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,
This Trinity Sunday tells us much about the charism of St. Gaspar Bertoni. A number of our Stigmatine students of the Founder’s special grace believe that St. Gaspar was much inspired by the Most Blessed Trinity – by the Eucharist – and by the integral Paschal Mystery: the Sorrowful Wounds on Good Friday and the Glorious aspect of these Wounds of the Apostolic Mission on Easter night.
There clearly is a “Trinitarian” dimension to Fr. Bertoni’s great dream for the Stigmatines – a group of individuals, who would strive to live together as a family, and would communicate God’s Word and love in their ministry, as the Father sends out His Word incarnate in Jesus Christ [The Father so loved the world that He sent His only son, did not spare Him – cf. Rm 8:32-Jn 3:16] – and the Father and the Son send out their mutual Love – in an eternal Mission of Truth and Love.
St. Gaspar’s Apostolic Mission lived the Mystery of the Eucharist as Offertory [offer your spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ… [cf. 1 P 2:5 – Rm 12:1, ff.: ‘make of your lives an oblation to God’s Mercy…’], Consecration [the Father consecrated Me and sent me into this world… [Jn 10:36] and Holy Communion [The Father and I are one – Jn 10:31].
In previous months, we have shared together some thoughts on St. Gaspar living out the ”Model’ of Christ – the Heavenly “Copy” – striving to imitate the Divine “Exemplar” – the supreme “Paradigm” – whose mind all are called to put on [cf. Ph 2:5-11]. In this Divine Word, for St. Thomas Aquinas, God has expressed His complete Word in Whom there is revealed full truth. The Holy Spirit has been sent to us all to reveal that which Jesus Christ has taught by his life and message.
Changing now for this month, the metaphor from speaking the word, to listening to the message – St. Gaspar heard [digne, attente, devote] the Divine Word deep in his apostolic missionary heart – and strives in His Apostolic Mission to ECHO this Word of God all his life. His ideal for the Stigmatines is coined in his phrase: Verbi Dei quodcumque ministerium [cf. # 163]: any ministry of the word of God whatsoever: from the “Apostolate of the Pen” – to “Evangelical Conversation” – to share the message of hope in God’s mercy.
Usually, on June 11th, the Church remembers St. Barnabas – his proper name was Joseph, but he was called Barnabas, as he came as ’the Son of Encouragement’ [cf. Ac 4:36] being full of the Holy Spirit. St. Gaspar’s Message to us all then is: Lift up your hearts! – By His Wounds, all of ours will be healed [Is 53:5; 1 P 2:34]. Let us listen to this in our hearts!
Fr. Joseph Henchey CSS
Assistant Spiritual Director
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL 60060
Commemoration of St. Catherine of Siena, Doctoress of the Church
April 29, 2017
Dear Stigmatine Lay Member
As the month of April ends and May begins, there are two Dominican Saints commemorated, who have been much honored by the Church: St. Catherine of Siena, Dominican Tertiary – and in early May, the Dominican Pope, St. Pope Pius Vth. St. Catherine served as a counselor Popes – and St. Pius Vth promulgated the Decrees of the Council of Trent – as well as promoted devotion to the Most Holy Rosary. This devotion came to the Church through the ministry of St. Dominic and many early Dominicans.
To commemorate this month of May, we will offer a “birds-eye view” of a Stigmatine Calendar with an insight into some Stigmatine history from 1777-1911 – events that took place in the month of May over the years.
For our spiritual reflection, I am also offering a translation of a study compiled by our late Stigmatine Confrere, Fr. Cornelio Fabro, CSS, on some of St. Thomas’ insights on Mary . [St. Thomas emphasized the universality of Christ’s redemption of the human race – and the Franciscan, Duns Scotus, clarified the more the terms of the mystery, by teaching that Mary was more loved by God, hence more perfectly redeemed from the contagion of sin: we have all been healed, and the contagion of sin was prevented from ever reaching her by God’s special grace – and the technical word used is “preventively”]. Then, secondly, there will be a brief outline of several of the parish sermons delivered by St. Gaspar, considering the Mother of God.  [It is remarkable that in his spoken word we have very little of his ideas regarding Mary as the Spouse of St. Joseph. However, our Patronal Feast of the Holy Espousals was simply a devotion lived in the early Stigmatine community.
Let us deepen our devotion to the Blessed Mother of God in this month of May – as we ask for the intercession of the Holy Spouses Mary and Joseph, on our own lives, those of our families and of the Church.
May God bless us all, each and every one! – let us ask for the grace of an increased devotion to Mary and Joseph, the Patrons of our Congregation and in a particular way, of our Province here in the USA!
Fraternally yours in our devotions to Mary and Joseph,
Fr. Joseph Henchey CSS
Acting Spiritual Director
 An Aspect of the Mariology of St. Thomas Aquinas – by Fr. Cornelio Fabro, CSS.
 An Aspect of the Mariology of St. Gaspar Bertoni in his Parish Sermons.
On March 18 & 19, 2017, there took place, at the Stigmatine Seminary of Philosophy (Chácara do Vovô) in Campinas, SP, the annual province-wide conference of the Stigmatine Laity (FABER) . The conference was attended by members of the six FABER local centers, i.e.: Marilia, Praia Grande, Ribeirão Preto, Itararé, São Caetano do Sul and Campinas (all in the state of São Paulo).
It was a very important moment in the journey of the Stigmatine laity, in which we evaluated the work carried out by the FABER local centers in the last 12 months, and draw up new guidelines for the next period.
About 35 people were gathered, among them all the Provincial Councilors, including Fr. Luciano Romero da Silva, CSS (Vocation Director and Director of the Stigmatine laity) and Brother Marcos Paulo.
In addition to the meetings, we had also out-of-home and leisure moments, such as a visit to the Cathedral of Campinas, a prayer service in front of the tomb of the deceased Stigmatines, a picnic at Lake Taquaral and, at the closing of the first conferences day, a beautiful Italian Night, prepared and offered with great affection by the FABER Campinas.
The second conference day was begun with the Holy Mass, presided by Fr. Luciano Romero da Silva, CSS, who preached and assured us that hope never disappoints, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us (Rm 5:5).
With this certainty, we were able to make all the decisions, including the schedule for the next province-wide meetings, that follows:
– September 8-10, 2017: annual retreat, at Santana Retreat House and Conference Center (Fazenda Santana), in Corumbataí, SP;
– November 18, 2017: a pilgrimage to Aparecida, SP;
– March 17-18, 2018: annual conferences in Itararé, SP.
At the end of the conference, a Relic of St. Gaspar Bertoni was presented to all of us. This relic will visit consecutively all the FABER centers, starting in Itararé.
We ask the Lord to strengthen up the spiritual journey of all the Stigmatine Laity, for we can continue walking in the footsteps of our Founding Father St. Gaspar Bertoni, under the light of his Charism.
By Kelci Ribeiro Ferreira dos Santos
Stigmatine Laity Councilor
FABER stands for FAMÍLIA BERTONIANA, the Family of lay Stigmatines in the Province of the Holy Cross, in Brazil.
1000 East Maple Avenue
Solemnity of St. Joseph
[Letter for APRIL]
Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,
Having reached more than the mid-way point in Lent – and with the coming of the new springtime, with its joy-filled celebration of Easter, the Ascension and the Pentecost, the reflection by Fr. Bertoni for this time may be his appeal for totality! This is already included from Old Testament times, in the wording of the First Commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your minds.”[Dt 6:4; Mt 22:37; Lk 20:27 = CCC # 2083]. One of the great enemies of holiness is mediocrity. We were reminded of this for more than a generation by the Papal Motto and personal example of the late Saint Pope John Paul II: TOTUS TUUS.
Most of us Stigmatines, glad for the existence of the Lay Stigmatines in our lives, find much inspiration in the lived example of the Laity. By their fidelity and reverence, they inspire us by the Faithful Witness. While perhaps St. Gaspar did not ever expect that there would ever be such a structure as “Stigmatine Laity” I think today he would say that we truly need such a group:
From his Dec. 2, 1808 entry Spiritual Diary:
[this whole month of December 1808 provides a rich source of spiritual inspiration]:
[80.] It is most unfortunate and a shame to see so much holiness in the Laity and so much imperfection and vices in a priest.
This is a stimulating reflection for the work of personal progress in holiness. It reflects at the same time a grace and a disgrace most evident in the times of Fr. Bertoni. Bishop Innocent Liruti, at the end of his first year as bishop of Verona, had to write a very strong Decree of correction… However, he went on to say that The deplorable life of some who depart from the good example of others, cannot take away the honorable reputation that our Clergy justly possesses. 
When Fr. Bertoni was just 33 years old, he was called by his
Bishop to take on an official apostolate among the Clergy, in 1810, he will present the same stimulating thought during the Introductory Meditation of the Spiritual Exercises on The End of Man:
… Many secular people fulfill this goal better than the Clergy. Their lives are full of good works while ours are full of hot air. Their lives are spiritual, while the lives of many clergies are unfortunately not so … The Church, in these times, cries bitterly over this disorder which brings down scourges and gives scandal to the people more than ever… If you are already deacons or priests, then weep, weep! With penance wash away these stains. Begin with your own before which, perhaps, “we have sinned without knowing”… Let us put our lives in order. Let us learn from many secular people how to live properly. “The unlearned come to the fore and snatch the Kingdom of God for themselves” [cf. Lk 16:16). And we ourselves with all our learning, where shall we go?…
He gave a similar teaching to the Seminarians in Jan. 1811:
… There, in the good example of secular people: in the faithful observance of religion and the perfect charity of many secular people, Divine Providence supplies His chosen ones with a powerful stronghold against the scandal of worldly priests... Therefore, whoever clings to this help, will strive to, make an effort as do the secular people in progressing towards perfection. Such a person has sure signs of a genuine ecclesiastical Vocation… 
It goes without saying that Fr. Bertoni preached these things to himself before preaching them to others.
… For Christ I am nailed to the cross… and it is the same cross of Jesus Christ. In Greek it is more clear: [Christò synestàuromai] i.e. together with Christ I am nailed to the cross. It is as if I am grafted and planted together with the tree of the Cross of Christ. I possess in communion with the same tree its sap and its life: namely Grace and Charity… 
So, in inviting both to self-denial and to the cross, Fr. Bertoni was sure that as far as the Lord is concerned, He will never fail. On the other hand, he also saw the cooperation of God with so great an amount of Grace that human cooperation – as spontaneous as it can be – did not seem to him much more than a simple acceptance of an invitation. Furthermore, the cross was consequently so much lightened, to be able to say It is not us, but Jesus who, out of love for us, carries it in the end.
Here is the concluding prayer, which referred to Gal 6,14 and Mt 16,24:
… Lord, we have experienced the tribulations of Your Church, in which we see the enhancement of both Your wonderful providence as her Spouse and the prudent and virtuous behavior of Your Bride. We highly respect Your most wise governance. We pray that You may make Your Spouse to imitate You in following and carrying out what You said: He who wants to follow me let him carry his cross. Grant that we may carry the cross, not to drag it. That we may carry it so willingly that we boast of it. That we may carry it with so much love that we end up in boasting in nothing else but in it. This cannot happen unless first the world should be crucified to me and myself to the world. This will never happen until the world becomes a cross to me, as I am to the world, because of the irreconcilable opposition of feelings… 
7th DECEMBER 1808:
[83.] When God calls people to some projects of spiritual life, one has to seize the opportunity of the moment. And at once they left the nets and followed Him.
We can trace the thought of Fr. Bertoni in a Meditation from DaPonte which is entitled: The Calling and Vocation of the Apostles. The text is from St. Matthew 4:20. Fr. Bertoni summarized the 4th point as follows: The obedience of the Apostles to God’s vocation was most perfect with regard to:
… Consider the excellent obedience with which the Apostles answered their calling. In fact… while Peter and Andrew were casting their nets into the sea and Zebedee’s sons were mending their nets in the boats with their father, when Christ called them immediately and at once, they left their nets and their father and everything and followed Him.
… With this kind of obedience, the apostles showed the three excellent properties of this virtue. The submission of intellect and judgment: making them obey Christ and subjecting them to His orders without making any excuse. The submission of will: subjecting it completely to that of Christ, dispossessing themselves of the love they had for their wives, children, fathers, relatives and their own properties. The perfect execution: which was – as Saint Chrysostom says – prompt, punctual and cheerful, without delay not even for a moment and without contradiction. Oh, the miracles of God’s power! Oh, what changes can God do!
Fr. Bertoni often spoke of our Divine Vocation. His teacher here, Fr. DaPonte, has stated that it comes “through the grace of the Holy Spirit, not depending on our merits, and that with it all other necessary goods are given for our salvation…; then it was really the case to exclaim: I fear Jesus passing by! This is seen in the traditional sense, i.e. “Woe to those who let Him pass without following after Him! Woe to those who do not seize the opportunity of the moment!
20th DECEMBER 1808
[87.] In the spiritual enterprises it is of great advantage when two people find that they can share the same perception.
Fr. Gaspar found this advantage from the outset with Fr. Matthew
Farinati (ordained in 1802) and afterwards also with Fr. Cajetan Allegri (ordained in 1805). Fr. Giacobbe wrote that … these priests, animated by the zeal and spirit of Fr. Bertoni, formed, as they put it, a threefold cord of admirable harmony among themselves… This principle held not only collaborating in the youth apostolate (to which Fr. Giacobbe seems to refer) but also in common study for their mutual spiritual growth. In addition to many other indications, we have a witness of this in the various extracts of quotations which the three priests drew together from the Life of St. Cajetan of Thiene and above all from Rodriguez’ Exercise of Perfection.
Very revealing are the words which Fr. Farinati wrote on the inside page of the hardcover of that book: There are excellent ideals contained in this booklet! These words are followed by a quotation from the prophet Ezekiel: I sought among them for a man that might set up a hedge and stand in the gap before me in favor of the land so that I should not destroy it: but I found none. (Ezk 22:30). It seems that Fr. Farinati recognized in that prophetic text a common vocation of the three friends to be just that man. This was what stimulated them – as priests belonging to no Order – applying to themselves the whole exercise of perfection which was reserved for the Religious. It was also on the strength of the principle which Fr. Bertoni will support strongly, i.e. that what in the Religious is a tension towards Perfection, in the Priest should be acquired perfection.
[88.] While we feel called to some high degree of Perfection, we should pay attention not to underestimate those who do not want to follow us. They might perhaps be of equal and greater merit in front of God. We all have the same purpose. Not all use the same means.
This maxim is a development on that of 12 Oct: He who is drawn by the Spirit to a way of greater perfection… should not resent others who are of lower virtue and use lesser means as long as these are good. We were saying, there, that such is the spirit that filtered through the meditation of The Kingdom of Christ, according to St. Ignatius and Da Ponte. Different people are freely called to militate under the banner of Christ. It is clear that each person must imitate Him in the condition to which each has been called, for himself following those different invitations.
Fr. Bertoni intended to keep the commandment which regards our neighbor: Do not judge… and to preserve one’s own meekness and humility of heart. We can see an encouragement in reminding ourselves that merit does not depend on the greater or lesser excellence of a vocation. This is God’s gift. It depends rather on the greater or lesser correspondence to such a gift. It could, therefore, happen that somebody with a lesser gift of God would correspond to it with greater perfection than others with a greater gift.
As for the variety of ways and means to reach the same Ultimate End, this is but a logical consequence of the variety of the same vocations.
[89.] – It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you (John 15:16). We have to pay much attention not to set ourselves against the Lord with our sins and lack of mortification.
The text from St. John’s Gospel could have been applied also to the preceding entry. But Fr. Bertoni wrote it with a dash separating it from the previous note. He admonishes the each one – i.e. no one other than himself – not to put obstacles against the action of God with sins and the lack of mortification. He saw also here the connection between two undertakings: that of his personal sanctification (cf. 12 Oct) and that of the promotion of the greater glory of God through a life dedicated to the Apostolate (cf. 15 Sept). We could have expected a hint at the Ignatian principle which is at the base of everything, as we have said in the note of 12 Oct: very few are those who… And also the encouraging sentences of 2 and 3 Dec.: Take care that we do not fail the Lord, because He will surely not fail us. The Lord just shows us the cross…
St. Paul tells us that we are all Temples of the Most High, of the Holy Spirit – still under construction – being built up by one another. As the Pierced Side of Christ provided an opening into the sanctuary of the Trinity –and invites us all into the celebration of the Eternal Celebration of thanksgiving by the Merciful High Priest forever in the Celestial sanctuary – let us all look into our own personal efforts to live this Lent, and to witness to the living of the Charism, unique otherworldliness of St. Gaspar Bertoni. By God’s infinite mercy, this is a gift for us all. Let us seek to inspire one another on how we strive to follow the lord, through the daily picking up our Cross through life.
Fr. Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director
[p.s. In my letter for last month, I mistakenly quoted the date of the death of Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, op – he died on February 15, 1964].
 5th Meditation on Primum Regum. December 9, 1810. MssB ## 4963. [All students of St. Gaspar remember his beautiful insight in considering the Church as ‘a Model of Holy Abandonment’ [cf. Epistolario, Letter 38, October 26, 1813. p. 99.
1000 East Maple Avenue
MUNDELEIN IL 60060
For the Month of March- devoted to St. Joseph
Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,
On this date, in 1964 – just three months after the assassination of President John Kennedy, Fr. Reginald Garrigou–Lagrange, O.P. died at Santa Sabina Monastery in Rome [the general headquarters of the international Dominican Order]. For the first half of the 20th century, ‘Fr. Garrigou’ was a major contributor to Catholic Theology, one of international repute. To this day, he is perhaps best remembered for his work in Spiritual Theology – and his masterpiece, “The Three Ages of the Spiritual Life”. In recent years, many of these voluminous contributions to theology are being reprinted. He taught at the ANGELICUM in Rome for well over a half a century – and taught a number of our American Stigmatine Professed Students near the end of his long career, in the years 1952-1958. Among his major contributions of the Church is the fact that he also served as the doctoral thesis tutor of a young priest from Poland – Fr. Wojtyla – who later became St. Pope John Paul IInd.
In our small Stigmatine world he also directed the thesis of our late
Fr. Nello Dalle Vedove, CSS, in his fine theological study on the spirituality of St. Gaspar Bertoni. Fr. Nello’s fine work was entitled: “Gaspar Bertoni, A Servant of God”: A Model of Holy Abandonment”. This fine theological thesis proves that the now canonized Fr. Bertoni lived a life of a heroically strengthened theological hope in the living of Thy Will be done of the Lord’s Prayer` – throughout the long and very challenging physical and spiritual sufferings he had to endure for most of his 76 years on this earth. This fascinating study is still highly readable for anyone interested in a much deeper appreciation and reflection on St. Gaspar’s life and authentic spirit.
It is interesting to note that still today, there is interest in the re-
printing of Fr. Garrigou’s theological works – perhaps originally compiled in the 1930’s. In his tract on Divine Providence, Fr. Garrigou refers to St. Joseph as a Model of Hope in the constellation of the Saints of the Church. In the theologian’s work on Christ [and His Incarnation and in His Redemption of the world], also recently reprinted – there is a final Compendium on Mariology with a few fine pages dedicated to St. Joseph.
Fr. Garrigou teaches [cf.Christ, Aeterna Press Nov. 2016, pp. 567, ff.]: “…there intervened between St. Joseph and the most Blessed Virgin Mary a marital bond… there is no doubt that to the most distinguished dignity whereby the Mother of God very far surpasses all creatures, it came about that nobody is greater than St. Joseph… God gave Joseph as Spouse to the Virgin… Patron of the Dying, protector of the holy Church. St. Joseph then, was predestined for an exceptional mission, as Spouse of the Mother of God, and foster-father of the Son of God. The Guardian of the Redeemer received a sanctity in proportion to his mission, and this sanctity increased until the very end of his life. St. Joseph was predestined to the protection of the Son of God incarnate and of His Mother… St. Joseph was considered by Fr. Garrigou as a “Model of Holy Abandonment [Hope]”.
In the light of all the above, it is interesting to note that one of the finest “Apostolic Exhortations” on St. Joseph was presented during the long Pontificate of St. John Paul II: on August 15, 1989, the Apostolic Constitution Guardian of the Redeemer [Redemptoris Custos] was promulgated. A recommendation I might personally offer is that all read this work Redemptoris Custos, in a very prayerful, meditative spirit during the month of March, in observance of the coming Lent. It is a wonderful contemplation on the Pope’s oblation of faith, and the commitment of life, as Totus Tuus – St. John Paul IInd’s papal motto. The document provides a powerful meditation on the Mystery of the Holy Espousals.
Our late and distinguished confrere, Fr. Cornelio Fabro, CSS – offers some profound philosophical and theological insights into the term “Model” and its synonyms and parallels – as an ideal that offers us much for our own lives of faith.
In Thomistic circles – cf. in this regard: Roy J. Deferrari and his voluminous Lexicon of St Thomas Aquinas, which treats of the exemplar/exemplary in several ways, as follows:
as a Noun: it means COPY; IMAGE; PATTERN; MODEL; EXAMPLE; PARADIGM; STANDARD, etc. Thus St. Thomas presents Jesus Christ As the Example for believers [III, q. 15; a. 1; 21, a. 3]. St. Thomas notes that when we try to explain in the mysteries of Faith, most helpful to be understood, we propose better known “examples” [I-II, q. 19, a. 10 c] – for our moral lives as well: Put on the mind of Christ Jesus.
the term used as a CAUSE and as an adjective: this presents a form to be imitated, but one that assists us (as a Cause) in the undertaking This is an ideal that needs to be imitated, lived, in that God is also the First Exemplary Cause of all [I, q. 44, a. 3]. We are all made in His image and likeness. Furthermore, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the Exemplary Cause of our own [cf. III, q. 56, a. 1 ad 3um].
For a prayerful reflection on St. Gaspar for the month of March this year, with the help from the works of our late confrere, Fr. Cornelio Fabro, CSS – I have presented some thoughts on this wonderful Christian ideal – in the hope that each one of us might make a further application of the Stigmatine Founder’s life on our own. For this, let us pray to our Holy Patrons, the Holy Spouses Mary and Joseph, to intercede for us all for a blessed Lent.
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL 60060
January 22, 2017
Eve of our Patronal Feast of the Holy Spouses
Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,
In the month that will soon open, we find ourselves in the midst of winter – yearning for the spring. Soon we will hear the clarion call for baseball teams: Pitchers and Catchers are called to Spring Training early in February! This is an early call to an anticipated spring. We look ahead to Lent, followed by the new springtime and the resurrection.
For the month of February, I offer, on Appendix I, these reflections to the Stigmatine Laity: pondering on the month of February through our history from the “Stigmatine Calendar” and our call to detachment and to trust in the God of the blessings more than to the Blessings of God!
For this month of February, I submit, on Appendix II, an English translation of a recent serious theological study on Christ, as Spouse [of the soul; of the Church].
May the God of Mercy bless us all in our efforts to serve the Church, Spouse of Christ – to be more dedicated to the Nuptial Banquet of the Eucharist – to look forward to the eternal Easter Nuptial banquet of everlasting life!
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL 60060
December 26, 2016
St. Stephen – 1st Martyr
Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,
Here, the day after Christmas, the Church reminds us of the first Martyr, St Stephen. As our second centenary as Stigmatines fades into happy memory, we look forward to this beginning the third centenary – and early in January, we have the celebration of the Epiphany of the Lord. Like the Magi of old, we are called to follow the star: to follow God’s word. St. Thomas Aquinas and the Mystics refer to faith compared to a candle in a dark place – and, in faith, we pray that perpetual light may shine for all eternity, when we are brought home to God, by following the star of God’s word, and the teaching of the Church.
As St. Stephen was giving his missionary life up to the Lord, the Scriptures tell us that as the Saint was being martyred, being filled with the Holy Spirit, and saw the heavens opened [cf. Ac 7: 54-60]. This is the goal of our pleasing the Lord by one day entering heaven, persevering in faith all through life, by following the bright star of His word in a darkened world.
To teach us along our way, the Church offers us a wide variety of ‘Models” of Redemption – this meeting of God’s Infinite Divine Mercy with our abysmal human misery. Some of these are:
Agriculture [vine and branches; seed of God’s word];
Economics [Debt; Purchase price];
Medical [healing, Eucharist as Pharmacum: Antidote]; Liturgy [Sacrifice, Communion, Holocaust];
Juridical [Tribunal; Judgment; Advocate];
Military [Spiritual Combat; sword of God’s Word; helmet of salvation]; Family [God as Father; Spouse; Infancy].
Over the marvelous discoveries of the past 225 years, some might at Astronomy – with the discovery of a bit more of the immense treasures of the created universes.
Astronomy can teach the open mind about the size of the planets, and stars – the distances – their speed – and the power of their gravity and the magnetic fields in this millennia-old “tug of war’ going on in the skies above. A modern theologian, the late Has Urs von Balthasar, developed the idea of a Christological Constellation – all the saints of the New Testament and of all time gyrate around the Central Power of God’s Mercy, drawing us ever onward and upward and upwards. Spiritually, the infinite Mercy of God has reversed the natural Law of gravity – he used the metaphor of a “Christological constellation” – reversing the natural process of falling down, but his mercy Lifts us up – and we pray in each Mass, Lift up your hearts!
St. Gaspar Bertoni spoke of being drawn on ward by the power of the Lord: in his very first letter, of Nov. 12, 1812, he writes about his dream of a community. He reminds us that when Peter heard that correction when he seemed to be sinking into the deep waters, the Lord said to him: “Ye of little faith! Why do you doubt?” [Mt 14, 31]. The Lord Jesus was very near to the struggling Peter at this time, and was approaching him over the storm waters, drawing him by His own right hand. His prayer was at that time as the Spouse in the Song of Songs: Draw me after you! [Ct 1:23] [cf. Epistolario, pp. 23, f.]. Again St. Gaspar reminds us in his 149th letter [cf. o.c., p. 236] – the Lord takes hold of our weakness, and draws it to Himself and shares His own good odor with us. He further noted that good prayers of dear people for us further enable us to draw the carriage of our burdens in the service of the Lord [cf. o.c. p. 286].
This same ideal is presented to us in the resurrection of the Spouse of the Church. We read in John 12:32 that when He is raised up, He will draw all to Himself. Fr. Bertoni’s own spirituality seems to manifest a kind of Eucharistic Constellation, as his own Spiritual Diary indicates this way:
AN INTRODUCTION FOR THE YEAR 1812
Fr. Bertoni continued with great determination his apostolate and his penances until October, the month during which a very severe illness struck him. He was hardly recovering from that illness, when Bishop Innocence Liruti gave him more ministries to accomplish in the Seminary. He had to suspend the assistance to the Canossa “Retreat”, except for the Direction of its Superior, Mother Leopoldina Naudet.
Before presenting an outstanding “gift of Prayer” which Fr. Bertoni received on 30 May 1812 (during the Octave of Corpus Christi), we should like to give an extract from Leopoldina’s Diary. It deals with an experience of ecstasy which she tried to resist, during the Mass of Holy Thursday which on that year fell on 26 March:
“… While thinking of the Institution of the Blessed Sacrament I was taken in spirit to the place of the Last Supper. In the contemplation of what was going on there, I felt being very pleasantly but strongly drawn out of myself. I abandoned myself and surrendered to the power and pleasantness of that pulling force. When I realized that my body was also going to be involved and it started to lose its sensitivity, my natural reaction forced me to become distracted. I did that, however, with some hesitation. I knew that I was told not to do like that and to trust in God. Notwithstanding that I gave myself an excuse thinking that what I was experiencing could be a physical weakness. I continued to distract myself in order to have control over my feelings and to remain self-conscious… “
Fr. Bertoni had previously advised her with a statement so characteristic of him: Do not resist God. Trust in God! What would have happened on that Maundy Thursday if Leopoldina would not have resisted the attractions of God, seems that her Spiritual Director experienced himself a couple of months later on 30 May 1812.
30th MAY 1812
[171.] While in prayer before Mass I was taken over by some drowsiness and I heard from the Crucifix these words addressed to my heart: Look at this Heart of mine! Those words immediately brightened my mind with light and my heartfelt suddenly a great fervor. Then it was as if my spirit rose up to see the lovable object which was indicated. I felt a shivering throughout my whole body. I found I had my eyes and mouth closed but my soul was wide awake and full of delight.
It seemed that my soul wished to separate itself from my body. It seemed to be dying and yet to enjoy this. When it turned again back with desire towards the one who was talking to it, I had another shivering and the feeling of a sweet painful death. My soul was then confused about what to do. If the experience had continued it was going to die or at least to be separated from the body. In such inability to act, it rested with delight in the hands of the Lord and finding great peacefulness it was ready to die in that very moment. Then, in an instant, it regained contact with the senses.
The effect of this was a very tender devotion to the Sacred Heart. During Mass, I was full of sentiment. My soul was moved to tears at Holy Communion. After Mass, I kept much recollection and gladness for the whole day with an increase of Faith, Hope and Charity.
The text is worth reading and meditating with devotion. This would be sufficient to understand it and to savor it without pretending to penetrate the deep phenomena which it narrates. However, some remarks are helpful. We take from what Fr. Dalle Vedove wrote with regard to that mystical experience of Fr. Bertoni:
… It is probable that he was preparing in those days the homily for the Feast of the Sacred Heart, the following Friday. Spending nights in work, study and prayer makes one somehow drowsy early in the morning. But Fr Bertoni’s drowsiness was not just natural: it was that turgidity and tying up of the human faculties which is characteristic of mystical experiences. The words Look at this Heart of mine! were heard distinctly. What followed was like a flash of lightning: an irresistible desire to see the lovable object which was indicated.
… The sudden and almost violent way in which Fr. Gaspar was taken by this mystic gift showed that it was not a simple ecstasy, which should have developed slowly and pleasantly, but rather a real rapture or flight of the spirit. The effects of this extraordinary experience invaded not only the spiritual faculties of mind and will but also the physical ones with characteristic phenomena like shivering of the body and shutting off of sight and voice. He even reached, twice, the state of alienation close to death. Yet the whole experience was described as delightful and in great quiet. The rapture in front of the Crucifix marks the height of Fr. Gaspar’s extraordinary spiritual gifts. After this mystical experience, he was no longer sure what he should write down on paper. He will record only seven more short notes and will leave blank the remaining 90 pages of his JOURNAL. The reason could be that a new phase of his life was opening up.
… Within few months he will be struck by a sickness which will accompany him for the remaining forty years of his life, marked by intense suffering. From the ecstasy in front of the Crucifix which showed him the Sacred Heart, a new journey began. It will lead him to the total sacrifice of self. Just like Jesus who, after his Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, took decisively the road to Jerusalem for his sacrifice on Mount Calvary… 
Let us pray for each other, for a blessed and happy new year – with the prayers of our Patrons, the Holy Spouses, Mary and Joseph, let us undertake our journey of following the Lord – the Star of His word, until He leads us all home to the perpetual life of His Eternal glory.
Sincerely yours in the Merciful Lord,
Fr. Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director
P.S. To help us reflect on this new year, I am offering two reflections from St. Gaspar: one from his Epiphany Letter of 1806 – and the other, a meditation on his spirituality and theology.
Web-Site Note: it is interesting to note that in these days [less than a week later] Fr. Bertoni was thinking integrally also of the Glorious Wounds retained in Christ’s Risen Body. In St. Gaspar’s sermon on the Sacred Heart [June 5, 1812], he stated: His side, opened after His death, is used to show us that Heart, that same Heart wounded by the lance, that WOUND RETAINED IN HIS GLORIOUS BODY, render the Heart so sweet, evident, divine, so much so that it is impossible to venerate the Wounded Heart without remembering and venerating His immense love [cf. MssB # 1771]. This integral theme is much in evidence in Fr. Bertoni’s spirit – cf. J. Henchey, CSS, ‘S. Gaspare Bertoni: una speranza missionaria…, in”: Symposium…, pp. 143-160.
 Fr. Nello Dalle Vedove, Un modello…, o.c., pp. 191, ff.
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL 60060
Solemnity of Christ the King 2016
Dear Stigmatine Laity,
If it is not too personal, I would like to share a dear memory with you from my own life, from our special celebration of “Christ the King Sunday” of 1955 – my ordination as a Deacon on that day. In those years, the Solemnity of Christ the King was celebrated on the last Sunday of October – and the date that year was October 31st, for us Americans, Halloween. So my class and I went down in our own history as the “Halloween Deacons!”
By that stage in our formation, the person and writings of our eventually sainted Founder, St. Gaspar Bertoni, were such a part of our daily lives as we prepared for these great and challenging steps along the way toward the Stigmatine Priesthood. We came to understand that St. Gaspar Bertoni was much inspired to imitate/ follow Jesus Christ in his own particular manner, as “Apostolic Missionary” responding to the portrait of the Risen Christ: We must make in ourselves a portrait of Jesus Christ. [His Diary, Feb. 26, 1809]. In Jn 20: Jesus showed His Apostles His wounded hands and His side, saying: As the Father sent Me, now I send you! – and his hope was that this dream would also be handed on to other later generations of Stigmatines. It seems that already before his death, St. Gaspar hoped that the Stigmatines would become “international’ as he said in his Original Constitutions: that we should be ready to go “anywhere’ in the Diocese or the World.
St. Gaspar chose a sublime “way of living”, a truly committed modus vivendi, by choosing St. Ignatius of Loyola, as his “Model’ about which he wrote: For the examination of conscience one should choose a Saint of the same vocation as a mirror…[July 30, 1808]. St. Paul had already taught us that Jesus Christ was the ICON [the image] of the Living God [cf. Col 1:15]! St. Paul’s challenge was also: put on the mind of Christ Jesus! [cf. Ph 2:5, ff.]. This is what St. Ignatius did, and St. Gaspar followed suit and tried to do the same in his own life.
As we remember from our recent celebration of our second Stigmatine centenary, St. Gaspar entered the House called the Stimmate [named for the Stigmata of St. Francis] in Verona on November 4, 1816 – and died there on June 12, 1853, after nearly 53 years as a priest. As his health declined, in the 1840’s, he was inspired to put together some kind of a rule of life to be observed as he approached his own death. While he lived, the first Stigmatines looked upon him as the “Living Rule”. In the mind of the Church, a book of “Constitutions” approved by the Church, is intended to keep this blessed manner of living alive – even though it would need periodic updating with the passing of the years.
In this month’s reflection, we will offer the first four “Codes” of St. Gaspar’s Way of Life: His Original Constitutions [1840, and the years following, after living the community life for a quarter of a century]. – an eventual Appendix to Part XII to St. Gaspar’s original code – a juridical addition, requested by the Holy See for the initial approval of the community; a manuscript of 1889, prepared for printing as the Congregation sought its definitive canonical approval – which came in 1890; and finally, another Code [with corrections, omissions] offered following the results of the General Chapters of those years and the required observations from the Holy See in 1890– four booklets in all.
In his Summa, St. Thomas Aquinas dedicated some 25 of his lengthy Questions to the matter of “Law”. Jesus Christ “translated” His Father’s Will/Word in His Incarnation. With His Resurrection/ Ascension, the Lord left this challenge to His Church – some of her members were inspired by the Spirit to communicate Christ’s revealed message in the spoken and written Word. Through the centuries, great men and women were called to further the Kingdom of God – which had its own “Constitutions” in the Commandments, Beatitudes and Counsels. Each of these great individuals left their mark on the pages of the history of the Church, and her holiness. The ideal was committed to the human word, which constantly needed further fathoming, and a deeper understanding. To help in this process, Laws and various codices came to gather with some practical insight into the great Mystery of God and His Plan. As. St. Thomas noted [cf. A. I. Menessier, OP, Pattern For A Christian According To St. Thomas Aquinas, pp. 47, ff.] fundamental requirements ask for contemplative reflection, updating, editing.
The Law of a religious community – its fundamental Law – after the divine revelation, is the Teaching of the Church and her special Witnesses. To be valid, this Law needs to look out for the betterment of the whole. Obedience to the Law of God is to live His will. As Moses’ presented a Law written on stone Exodus], Jeremiah [31:31, ff.] speaks of a New Covenant of God’s Mercy written on the hearts of human beings. These attempts needed progressive education, and on-going enrichment by the understanding and the living of those Laws that lead to God. Each human existence has divine meaning. Faith is first and in every way, in the Revelation that God makes of Himself – through the centuries this is more deeply grasped to live by the understanding that comes through Contemplation, Study, Magisterium and Lived Experience [DV 8].
As the divine word was incarnate in human flesh – to redeem the world and to make known the plan of God, the celebration of the Incarnation is observed as “Christmas”. The three Masses were thought of as the eternal birth of Christ from the bosom of the Father – the Mass at Dawn as the birth from the Blessed Virgin Mary – and the birth of us all through the grace of God in our lives offered to us through Mercy.
St. Gaspar saw it this way:
During the three [Christmas] Masses: recollection and an experience of the great benefit of [my] vocation. What a great blessing it is to become oblivious and stripped of all created things. To seek only God. How much did God honor and love His humiliated Son. Oh, what a responsibility do we have to do for Him, partly at least, what He firstly did for us. [December 25, 1808].
As Christmas approaches, along with the great mysteries of Jesus’ Eternal Birth from all eternity – His birth from the Blessed Virgin Mary, Spouse of Joseph – let us pray over the Mass during the Day, asking God to deepen His Sons birth in our hearts and minds.
A blessed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year! Let us continue to pray for each other! With much hope in God’s Mercy and with the intercession of our Holy Patrons, the Spouses Mary and Joseph, may blessings come to us all in this happy season!
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL 60060
October 28 2016
Sts. Simon & Jude, Apostles & Missionaries
Very dear Stigmatine Lay Member,
In less than two weeks – this coming November 4th, 2016, the Stigmatine Community will celebrate its 200th birthday. As a grateful souvenir of this happy occurrence, we submit for this month’s Stigmatine reflection, our “Stigmatine Calendar” – that notes some events [major and minor!] of the community from 1777-1911. These community diary notes were jotted down over the years, with remarks for almost every day of the month, for every day of the year. One example is as follows – On what happened on other November 4’ths over the years:
1794: Francis Peter Faber Pacificus Leonard Cartolari was born, the son of Peter [future Stigmatine].
1816:The birthday of the Congregation. On this day, Fr. Bertoni, Fr. John Mary Marani and Brother Paul Zanoli came to the Stimmate to take up residence. The beginnings of the Congregation.
1862: The Novitiate was transferred from the Stimmate to the Trinità for the second time. Fr. Marani, Superior General, blessed the House, that had been renovated. Fr. Vincent Vignola celebrated the Mass. The Triinità had been vacant for the past three years due to the work going on there. There were three Professed Students: Charles Zara, Francis Sogaro and Louis Morando [these last two would pass away as Consecrated Bishops]. There were four Novice Students: Andrew Sterza, Joseph DeVai, Joseph Sembianti and one other. There were also several Brothers there: Bro. Zanoli, Infirmarian and laundry; Bro. Nicora, Porter and tailor; Bro. Reali, Cook. Among the Aspirants were Anthony Caucigh, Pio Gurisatti and James Marini.
1866:This was the Golden Jubilee of the Congregation. It was the first Sunday of November. The day was celebrated both at the Stimmate and at Villazzano, Trent, where the Students of the Congregation were living ‘in exile.’
1885: On this date, Bishop Riboldi [later Cardinal], welcomed the Congregation of the Stimmate into his Diocese. The Congregation had come to Pavia to assist with the Oratory of St. Aloysius; to conduct a night school for workers’ and to preach Missions throughout the Diocese as long as this did not conflict with the other functions there.
In writing [over 50 years ago] his very authoritative biography of St. Gaspar Bertoni, Fr. Joseph Stofella [one of our greatest community biographers and historians] noted a minor characteristic shift in life. He underwent a kind of “character’ change that brought him from a “happy-go-lucky” lad, to one who was more reflective and pensive. In Fr. Stofella’s view this change seems to have been occasioned by domestic difficulties of his parents, and by a number of deaths in the Bertoni household, during St. Gaspar’s early teen years. One death in particular might have been included here – that of a three years old sister, Matilde, who died of miliary fever- which afflicted the Founder himself for years to come . The term Fr. Stofella used to describe St. Gaspar’s early shift, was “fugacità”, meaning a keen awareness of the passing nature of time – as noted in a well-known Latin saying: Tempus fugit! The Saint’s spiritual writings offer us a reflection:
17th SEPTEMBER 1808
[49.] Meditation. Death. The past is no more. The future has not yet arrived. Only the present is here. And it is in my hands. Let me live day after day, or rather from morning to midday and from midday to evening. Let me do every single thing with all possible perfection. Perhaps I will have no more time in which to glorify God.
This is a reflection on the Meditation of the day during this course of Retreat which lasted 8 days. The previous day he had meditated on the Foundation (the Purpose of Human Life) and on Sin. On the 17th he meditated on the Last Things and first: on Death. After the text which he heard from the Retreat Master and ended with: only the present is here – it is in my hands! He then added his personal resolution. This resolution has its source in a reading of ‘Rodriguez’:
… Do not take into account anything except TODAY. It is the usual temptation of the Devil to frighten us with the prospect of having to persevere for the whole stretch of a long life. This happened to St. Ignatius at Manresa. But who is not able to make an effort only for one day?
To this he adds a charming text from Genesis, about Jacob trying to win Rachel to himself. This could become a norm of life and it is chosen as a conclusion of the whole chapter. This is the text [These seven years were] seemed to him but a few days, because of the greatness of his love! (Gen 29, 20)… 
To come to practical conclusions, Fr. Gaspar restricted his terms to half a day… which is also a suggestion of St. Ignatius for the practice of the Particular Examen. As far as the original text to which Fr. Gaspar referred, it is from St. Augustine’s Confessions:
… This is what is called time. The past is not ours, nor can it be recalled. The future is not yet and will perhaps never be. Only the present belongs to us. But, alas! We scarcely have it, because it runs away even though we can keep it for ourselves. In fact in the same time that it starts to be it passes or rather it has passed away… 
The good use of time! Fr. Gaspar makes a practical resolution for holiness in the spirit of the most pure love. What matters for him is only the greater glory of God.
28th APRIL 1811
[167.] Watch and pray: This summarizes all the advices of
Scripture and of the Gospel.
WATCH: This means we have to be fully awake and strong: but without weapons. One could not resist if attacked: we shall be conquered.
PRAY: This means to be well armed, but asleep. If we are to be attacked we shall be stripped of our arms and killed by treachery.
WATCH and PRAY! This is a man who is strong, awake and well armed. He won’t be conquered.
Along with being our bicentenary, November is also the Month of the Holy Souls! Let us pray for our deceased, relatives and benefactors – and Stigmatine Lay members.
Respectfully in the Merciful Lord,
Fr. Joseph Henchey, CSS
[Acting Spiritual Director]
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL 60060
September 30, 2016
64th anniversary of our departure for Rome!
Dear Stigmatine Laity,
On this date in 1952, the North American Professed students left New York by boat [AN OLD Italian liner, the SATURNIA – mentioned by Winston Churchill in his classic history of the World War II years!] for Rome and our studies there! By a strange happenstance, we landed first in Genoa – from which Christopher Columbus has been reputed to have departed in 1492 – to discover American! We had it backward but for many of us, the Roman years were indeed a blessing to which we often look back with much nostalgia. There were 26 of us who sailed from New York on that date, with the late Fr. Charles Egan, who had been appointed the ‘Prefect of the Professed Students.’
During these recent weeks, we all rejoiced on hearing of the accounts of the meeting of the Stigmatine Lay Members in Rome, Verona and Milan, and the royal retreatment they received from our Italian confreres who hosted them all. What we have all learned in all this history and sharing with one another is that St. Gaspar Bertoni used Eucharistic terminology in writing his Original Constitutions. He said the Stigmatine is called to work, serving the Bishops, for the Church, anywhere in the diocese and world [CF # 5], striving to develop as a community some real expertise in some aspect of the very broad field For any service of the word of God whatsoever [cf. CF # 185]. The term St. Gaspar [CF # 2] used to express his own total. This, like the offertory of the Host, offered for the Consecration of God’s power, and the Holy Communion with God and our fellow human beings. Abandonment to God through the Church as obsequium from Rm 12:1: makes of your bodies [i.e., lives] an oblation to God’s Mercy!].
The documents of the Second Vatican Council reminded us that there is one Priesthood of Mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ – but two ways of sharing in it:
on the one hand, there is the Priesthood of the Baptized – empowering each of the baptized to make an oblation of their own lives through their own self-giving in life;
then there is the Priesthood Holy Orders, in which the ordained priest acts in the Name of Jesus Himself especially in Eucharistic Consecration, and Sacramental Absolution in the sacrament of Penance: – My Body – My Blood – I absolve you.
During the international gathering of the Stigmatine Laity earlier this month, our historians remind us that St. Gaspar was ordained a priest on September 20, 1800. As a rather lowly contribution to this second centenary year of Stigmatine life – and to call to mind these dates in our Stigmatine history, with this letter I submit two documents for your reflection:
the actual, official Minutes of the meetings of the first 18 General Chapters from 1871-191 These Minutes were translated some years ago from the Stigmatine General Archives in Rome and I do not think they have every appeared before in any language for those interested in Stigmatine History – [It is interesting to note that the great Jesuit Society did this some years ago, and published their Minutes, as: “For Matters of Greater Moment’ – an expression from St. Ignatius’ written Constitutions] – The First 30 – A Brief History of a Translation of the Decrees -1994];
the second document we are sending is a study on these Chapter Minutes, zeroing in on two points: CF # 5; # 185 – epitomized in Latin as quocumque [anywhere] and quodcumque – any ministry of the word of God whatsoever. Three good men left the Stigmatines at the time in an around the 12th General Chapter [of 1890]. They assumed some prominence in other communities: Francis Sogaro [Archbishop], Joseph Sembianti [Director General of the Comboni Missionaries] and Dominic Vicentini [Superior General of the Scalabrini community]. That period was a difficult one in our history.
With this letter, we send to you the Minutes of all the General Chapters from 1871-1911 – and also the reflections on the History of the 12th General Chapter and its trials. This is sent not so much for your information, but your good prayer that we Stigmatines might continue seeking a fuller way of seeking the perfect work of the Priesthood [cf. CF # 7].
In these gigantic tasks of Stigmatine History, I owe a debt of gratitude to the Stigmatine Laity member, Mrs. Tereza Lopes, of Plano, Texas.